We all know someone with epilepsy. This terrifying illness effects 3-4% of the Australian population. Once considered a disease for the young, the demographic is growing. 50% of people who have a seizure can expect to have more.
Though the causes of epilepsy are largely unknown, for some it could be a structural abnormality in their developing brain. Meningitis, encephalitis or lack of oxygen to the brain during birth can trigger epilepsy in later life. In more serious cases epilepsy can be a result of a brain tumour. Infant cases are often a result of genetics- a history of seizures in the family makes it more likely the child will develop epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a disorder of brain function- taking form as convulsive or non -convulsive seizures. A seizure is when the brain’s nerve cells misfire causing sudden and uncontrollable electrical activity in the brain. Movements, feeling and thoughts become confused momentarily. Seizures are sudden and always unexpected. They can be triggered every day or just once or twice in lifetime.
In most instances seizures fall into one of two categories; primary generalized seizures and focal seizures. Primary generalised seizures affect the whole brain and therefore the whole body. Focal seizures start in a particular part of the brain and affect the part of the body that the brain controls. This type of seizure can be related to a stroke, a tumour or a head injury – but in most cases are unknown.
Epilepsy is a terrifying, often unexplainable disease that affects thousands. Epilepsy will always have an impact on a sufferer’s life but is treatable. Recognising the symptoms and knowing recovery procedures can minimise the impact on those who suffer from it.
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